I was looking online about the Qur’an and I found some amazing errors

it is hard to imagine how they could explain it. They are:

With regards to Alexander the Great it says that he was given his power
from Allah, which is proposterous as he is said to have the importance of

prophet and yet he was a siner he was an idoler, homosexual tendencys and

was ruthless. It also said he built a huge wall to keep a army out, which

has no historical basis. This is described in Sura 18:83-100.

What is your view on this?

What is your opinion on errors in the Qur’an, as some of my Muslim freinds
say that the Qur’an is without error. They try to attack the credibility
of the Bilbe by saying it is full of errors. Can give you an example of an
error in the Qur’an. Examples I have heard of are the passages about
mountains as in Suras 16:15,21:13,31:10,78:6-7. It says that Allah threw
down mountains to stabilize the Earth. What is your view on this and can
you show me any errors you know of, could you also give me your opinion on
the Qur’an itself.


I had already started to answer your first question when the second one
came in, so I will answer both together.

You ask whether the Qur’an is “perfect” as its supporters claim, or
whether it has blatant errors–ones which cannot be logically explained
away by a reasonable person. Your comments imply categories of possible
errors, such as;

1. Internal inconsistencies

2. Historical errors and

3. Errors of fact relating to scientific claims in the Muslim scripture.

My response is that, despite the claims of Muslim apologists, yes, there
are absolutely clear examples of mistakes in the Qur’an. The only way
those who argue that the Qur?an is perfect can deal with these is by
ignoring the questions. I have considered this matter carefully, and done
quite a bit of study of the Qur’an myself to test these claims.

First, let me say that it is important for anyone who would
criticize the Muslim scripture to be both careful and fair. I am very
sensitive to this because I have seen innumerable examples of such unfair
and unreasonable attacks on the validity of the Bible as an inspired
text. Many have made unfounded claims about the Bible in all three of the
categories listed above. Many have claimed that the Bible is loaded with
blatant scientific errors, historical inaccuracies and obvious
inconsistencies with itself. I have considered many dozens of these
attacks and found all of them to be false. Some of them come from people
who have no care for accuracy and fairness, but are simply looking for mud
to sling around. Such people find supposed “inconsistencies” in the Bible
which are so easily explained by anyone who understands the Bible as to be
downright silly. Others have looked with a more careful eye and still
found what they feel to be mistakes in the Bible. I have found that these
do not hold up well to careful analysis either.

The point is this, in the spirit of the golden rule, which was given
to us by Jesus, we should be very careful in pointing out “errors” in the
Qur’an. Many “Christian” groups have not done a good job here. There is
a tendency to pass along all charges against the Qur’an, whether they are
substantiated by careful scholarship or not. Even when we discover
blatant signs of human wisdom in the Muslim scripture, we should not
resort to childish behavior when pointing out the mistakes. Let me
suggest a more fair way to develop Christian comparative apologetics as
they relate to Islam. For those Christians who would explain and compare
the Qur’an to the Bible, what should be done first and foremost is to read
and study the Qur’an itself. The second priority should be to read the
works of Islamic apologists. How do they explain and defend the Qur’an?
Dead last priority should be given to reading the “dirt” on Islam to be
found in the works of Christian apologists–especially those who are not
sufficiently careful.

One way to come to the realization that this is a wise path is to
read the typical attacks on the Bible which come from the pens of Islamic
critics. If one reads the books or peruses the web sites of Islamic
apologists, one will discover immediately that most of these criticisms
are very shallow. The attacks on biblical science, supposed
inconsistencies and historical errors one will find at most anti-Christian
websites–especially at Islamic-oriented ones represents almost uniformly
poor scholarship. It comes from people who have not bothered to test
their attacks by carefully reading the Bible or by simply asking a
Christian scholar whether their arguments will stand up to reasoned
analysis. It is my experience that the great majority of the arguments
against biblical infallibility are the result of people not understanding
the Bible itself. It becomes glaringly obvious that the majority of such
critics get almost all their material, not from carefully reading the
Bible or from bouncing their ideas off of Christian believers, but from
trolling the other anti-Bible groups for “dirt” on the Bible.

If we find such behavior to be offensive, then the golden rule would
dictate that Christian apologists ought to be far more fair and considered
in their analysis of other religions and their scripture. I have read
material at quite a few web sites devoted to “disproving” the Qur’an. The
average quality of the material used at these sites may be somewhat over
that of their opposite foes, but not by much. As intimated above, I find
that most of the dirt one finds on the Qur’an is recycled material from
others sources which shows little if any sign of coming from someone who
has actually read the Qur’an, and even more importantly, from an
understanding of current Islamic theology or Qur’anic interpretation. I
will admit that careful analysis of the Qur?an and a commitment to listen
to Islamic scholars is a lofty goal which may require a considerable
amount of work, but as the old saying goes, anything worth doing is worth
doing well.

You ask a general question about the Qur’an, but you also ask
specific questions about criticisms you have read. This is a good way to
approach the subject. First, let me consider the example you raise about
Sura 18:83-100. Is this a legitimate example of a blatant error in the
Qur’an? First of all, the person you quote assumes that this passage in
the Qur’an definitely refers to Alexander the Great. I did a bit of
research and found that it is true that many Islamic scholars have
interpreted this as a reference to Alexander. It would appear, though,
that this is not universally the case. To quote from Islamic scholar
Abdullah Yusef Ali; “Literally, ‘the Two-horned one,’ or the king with two
horns. Who was he? In what age, and where did he live? The Qur’an gives
us no material on which we can base a positive answer. Nor is it
necessary to find an answer, as the story is treated as a Parable.
Popular opinion identifies Dhu al Quarayn (the ruler in Sura 18:83-100)
with Alexander the Great. An alternative suggestion is an ancient Persian
King, or a prehistoric Himyarite King.” As I read it (in English
translation, of course), it is not obvious to me at all that this passage
has to be a reference to Alexander. In fact, Alexander is best described
as a one-horned one rather than a two-horned ruler. Persiais better
described as a two-horned kingdom (see Daniel chapter eight and my book,
Daniel, Prophet
to the Nations, Without doing a
thorough treatment of this example, let me give a preliminary conclusion.
If we were to assume that the Qur’an is inspired by God, and if we can
also assume that Sura 18:83-100 is indeed intended to be a literal
description of the work of Alexander the Great, then you would indeed have
a possible example of an error in the Qur’an. There is no way to
understand Alexander as a man of faith according to Islam! However, if I
were trying to develop a clear and fair case against the inspiration of
the Qur’an, I would not use this example for the simple reason that it is
debatable. I would prefer to use examples which would hold up to scrutiny
even in the face of open discussion with Islamic apologists.

You give a second example. This involves what the Qur’an appears to
say about the nature of earth’s mountains and their purpose. Examples, as
you mention, include Suras 16:15,21:31,31:10,78:6-7. Sura 16:15says, “And
He has cast great mountains in the earth lest it might be convulsed with
you, and rivers and roads that you may go aright.” Sura 21:31says, “And We
have made great mountains in the earth lest it might be convulsed with
them, and We have made in it wide ways that they may follow a right
direction.” Sura 31:10 says, “He created the heavens without pillars as
you see them, and put mountains upon the earth lest it might convulse with
you.” I am not a scholar in Arabic, to say the least, but would agree
that this does appear to be a good example of bad science in the Qur’an.
These passages definitely do seem to be saying that Allah created
mountains in order to prevent earthquakes, whereas we know that mountains
definitely do not prevent earthquakes. In fact, they are the result of
earthquakes. I have found a number of other examples of statements in the
Qur?an which represent obvious scientific errors, some of which are listed

Let me move to your question about my opinion of the Qur’an in
general. I would say that on the whole, it is an amazing book. Of one
considers its literary and its even moral value, coming as it does from a
pagan who was born into a violent, polytheistic society, the Qur’an is an
impressive accomplishment. However, to consider it as inspired by God in
the sense that the Bible clearly is, there is no way that it even comes
close to passing this test. The obvious scientific error you mention
above is one example. Let me supply just a couple of others.

First, right in the context of the Sura you mention above there is a
scientific blunder of the obvious sort. Consider Sura 18:86. “He
journeyed on a certain road until he reached the West and saw the sun
setting in a pool of black mud. Hard by (ie. near the pool of mud into
which the sun set) he found a certain people. ‘Dhu al Qarnayn,’ We said,
‘You must either punish them or show them kindness.” Muhammad is not the
first to spread around the false idea that the sun sets into a body of
water. This rather obvious error is the result of human thinking on the
motion of the sun.

Another clear scientific misconception in the Qur’an is found in
Sura 21:33. “It is He who created the night and the day, and the sun and
the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded
course.” The idea that the sun goes in a circular course around the sun
was discredited with the work of Copernicus and Galileo. Geocentrism was
the false concept of the heavens common in the time of the writing of the
Qur’an. Unfortunately for the claim of inerrancy of the Muslim scripture,
this false idea slipped into the Qur’an. When I read Sura 21:33, I see no
other way to interpret this passage!

Or consider Sura 34:9. “If We will, We can cause the earth to cave
in beneath their feet or let fragments of the sky fall upon them.” The
idea that the heavens were composed of solid crystal spheres has long
since disappeared, but it was the common conception of the ancients, which
would explain this odd statement being in the Qur’an. As I read Islamic
commentators, I see no answer to this fact. One makes the shard of sky be
a metaphorical challenge in people?s life, which is a pretty questionable
interpretation of this passage.

Sura 18:9-26 has a fable of three boys and a dog who entered a cave,
fell asleep, and woke 309 years later, as if they had never fallen asleep.
It is hard to take this fable seriously.

There are many rather obvious historical errors in the Qur’an
as well. For example one can find it stated that King David wore an iron
coat chain mail in Sura 34:9. The problem with this claim is that iron
chain armor was not invented until many centuries after David lived. The
Qur’anic commentators I have read on this gloss over this error.

As a second example, consider the story of Abraham as described in Sura
21:51-71. Here Muhammad has Abraham confronting his father and family
because of the many family idols which they worship. Abraham smashes all
their idols except the largest one. When confronted, he tells his family
that the large idol smashed the smaller ones. ?It was their chief (idol)
who smote them. Ask them (ie. the idols) if they can speak.? The
idolators admit that the idols cannot speak, at which point Abraham chides
them, ?Would you then worship that, instead of God, which can neither help
nor harm you. Shame on you and on your idols! Have you no sense?? They
attempt to burn Abraham to death in a fire, but God makes the fire cool so
that he does not die. Where did this fable come from? Actually Muhammad
borrowed if from Jewish folklore of the second century AD, specifically
from the Midrash Rabbah, which has a virtually identical myth. Which is
one to believe, the Jewish account of Abraham?s life from about 1400 AD or
the Qur?anic account, borrowed from a Jewish folk tale of the second
century AD? The Islamic response is to claim that the account of the life
of Abraham in Genesis is inaccurate?that the version found in the Qur?an
was expunged from the original. This is a spurious argument.

Consider a third example of obvious historical inaccuracy in the Qur?an.

In Sura 19:29-33, the writer of the Qur?an has the little baby Jesus
talking. The infant Jesus says, “I am the servant of God. He has given me
the Book and ordained me a prophet. His blessing is upon me wherever I
go, and He has exhorted me to be steadfast in prayer and to give alms as
long as I shall live.” The baby Jesus continues with his discourse in Sura
19. Quite a vocabulary for an infant! Did Muhammad receive this
information by revelation? Possibly, but it is worth noting that an
apocryphal “Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ” from second century AD
Egypthas a very similar account. Sura 3:49also has Jesus taking clay,
breathing on it, and turning it into a bird. Is this an accurate record
of an actual event? More likely, Muhammad borrowed it from one of his
eleven wives, two of whom are believed to have been “Christians.” This Qur?
anic fable is borrowed from the apocryphal “Gospel” of Thomas which says
of Jesus as a young child, “Then he took from the bank of the stream some
soft clay, and formed out of it twelve sparrows? Then Jesus, clapping
together the palms of his hands, called to the sparrows, and said to them:
?Go, fly away.?”

We can see that there is no doubt that Muhammad borrowed from both Jewish
and Christian myth, which makes any attempt to describe the Qur?an as
inspired by God very difficult to support.

Another obvious error is found in Sura 7:124 which has Pharaoh
threatening to crucify those who follo
w Moses over one thousand years
before crucifixion was even invented. In this case, the writer should
have checked his sources.

Other obvious historical errors in the Qur?an include confusing Ishmael
and Isaac (Sura 37:102), Noah?s fourth son drowning (Sura 20:120),
Zechariah (John the Baptist?s father) is silent for three days (rather
than nine months) (Sura 3:41). There are many more examples which could
be mentioned. Islamic scholars typically explain the inconsistency with
the Bible record by saying the Bible is wrong. This argument does not
hold up to scrutiny, partly because many or most of the errors in the Qur?
an are actually borrowed from obviously bogus apocryphal works. In the
case of Zechariah, we have to assume the those who actually knew Jesus?
mother got it wrong, while Muhammad got it right over six hundred years
later. This is simply not believable.

The third category of errors in the Qur?an are internal
inconsistencies. There are a great number of examples in which Muhammad
or another author makes statements in one place in the Qur?an which are
incontrovertibly in direct opposition to statements elsewhere. This fact
is so well known, even to Islamic scholars, that they have developed a
doctrine to explain away the contradictions. The means of explaining away
the obvious errors in the Qur?an are called abrogations. Apparently, even
those who put together the Qur?an in its final form were aware of the
blatant inconsistencies in the Suras, as is clear from Sura 2:106, “If we
abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten, We will replace it by a
better one or one similar.” This is a striking statement! Can you imagine
reading such an apology in the Bible? In this passage, Allah admits that
some of his early statements need to be abrogated. Islamic scholar Jalalu?
d Din says the number of required abrogations (ie corrections, mistakes)
in the Qur?an is between five and five hundred. The passages which must
be annulled (mansukh) are called nazikh. The idea is that more recent
passages can annul older passages. One problem is that it is virtually
impossible to tell which of Muhammad?s writings are older than which.

Examples of inconsistencies in the Qur?an include Sura 2:142-144 in which
the city to which Muslims must bow when praying is changed from Jerusalem
to Mecca. Another abrogation is required to justify the fact that Sura
7:54 lists six days of creation, while Sura 41_9-12 lists eight days. Sura
17:103 has Pharaoh drowned with his army, while Sura 10:90-92 has him
rescued as a sign to others. Sura 4:157,158 has Jesus definitely not
dying, but being called to Allah, while Sura 19:33 states that Jesus died
and was raised from the dead. Islamic scholars have a very difficult time
with this one. An almost innumerable list of examples can be given.

In summary, the Qur?an is certainly an amazing book, considering the
time and the circumstances under which it was written. However, the claim
that it is perfect?that it is inspired by an all-powerful God does not
hold up to careful study. Unless my concept of inspiration is mistaken,
divine scripture will not contain material culled from folklore and myth,
obvious scientific errors, or mistakes that even its supporters admit are
in the text. Having said this, I believe Christians need to apply careful
scholarship along with fair, reasonable and respectful treatment of the
text of the Qur?an.

John Oakes

Translations of the Qur?an are taken from:

1. Abdullah Yusuf Ali, “The Meaning of the Holy Qur?an” (Amana
Publications, Beltsville, Maryland, 2001)

2. N. J. Dawood, “The Koran,” (Penguin Classics, London, England, 1997)

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